Brazil manager Tite has hit back at Kylian Mbappe's claim that it is easier for South American teams to qualify for the World Cup than their European counterparts. Europe has dominated international football's most prestigious tournament in recent memory, producing the last four winners.
A South American side has not triumphed since 2002, when Brazil beat Germany in the final. Argentina went closest to ending this streak in 2014, falling to Germany at the last hurdle.
Back in May, Mbappe - who lifted the World Cup with France four years ago - offered an explanation as to why South American sides have struggled, saying: "Argentina and Brazil don't have that level of competition in South America, the football is not as developed as in Europe, that is why most recent World Cup winners have been Europeans."
How has Tite responded to Mbappe's claims?
Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe has already been criticised by Inter and Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez for his comments, and now Tite has become the latest footballing figure to question his views.
"Maybe [Mbappe] is talking about these Nations League clashes or European friendlies, but not World Cup qualifiers," he said in defence of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying during an interview with ESPN Brazil.Getty Images
Tite added: "We don't have, with all due respect, Azerbaijan to play. We don't have anyone that gives you a break.
"The qualifiers here have a much higher degree of difficulty than the group stage [of European qualifying]."
Could a CONMEBOL team win the 2022 World Cup?
Brazil have not won the World Cup for 20 years, but that has not stopped them from emerging as favourites for this winter's tournament.
However, they will face stiff competition from a host of strong European teams. Holders France and Euro 2020 finalists England are both expected to do well, as are Spain and Germany.
Argentina are being mentioned as potential winners too, with Qatar 2022 likely to be Lionel Messi's final World Cup.